Another night, another media event (no, not true - I have nothing lined up now that I'm done with Starbucks and Finale). Don Julio, a premium tequila company, hosted a media dinner on Thursday night at Masa in the South End. I was first going to attend for Bostonist, but another writer ended up taking over for me, so I was free to cover the event just for my own site.
I went directly to Masa from class, and let me say, there's nothing better than ending the week by walking into a restaurant and having a drink placed in your hands. Since Don Julio was sponsoring the dinner, we were treated to specially-designed cocktails throughout the night featuring the tequila. The first offering of the night, as we mingled before dinner, was a variation on sangria that went down easy.
As we settled down into our seats, the chef came out to explain our menu and drink pairings. With every word he said, I grew more and more hungry. Luckily, our first course was not far behind - a chipotle-spiked New England clam chowder, paired with a tres chiles margarita. The chowder was very thick, almost like a pea soup, and had a nice kick from chipotle. It seems that this is the only dish we had that is on their regular menu - don't order expecting a typical New England clam chowder, but it's warmth was welcome and comforting on such a cold day. The tres chiles margarita was my favorite drink of the night, featuring Don Julio Blanco, cucumbers, lemons and limes, and, as the name suggests, three different types of chili peppers. The chilis added some bite but were not overpowering, and the cucumbers and citrus evened out the flavor. Just thinking about it makes me want another one now.
Before I knew it, we had moved on to the next course - Tacos de carnitas with three different salsas, paired with a chipotle tamarind margarita. The tacos were perfect, with corn tortillas, salty pork confit, finely chopped onions and cilantro, a smooth avocado mash, and a smoky tomato salsa. I ate all three (even though I knew there were two more courses coming), and I could have eaten even more. The accompanying margarita was intense, perhaps a little too intense for me. The chipotle gave it a real kick (so much so that I couldn't drink it by itself, but only after a bite of taco), and the tamarind added a lot of sweetness and viscosity. Definitely not my favorite, although I did appreciate how smoothly all the flavors went together.
We then moved on to the main course, although we were all incredibly full. The Queso Oaxaca-stuffed Pan de Carne, or cheese-stuffed meatloaf or giant meatball, topped with a smoked Serrano cumino sauce, arugula, and cotija cheese was paired with Masa's Premium Margarita. The Pan de Carne used a mix of veal, beef, and pork, and I was especially fond of the use of the stringy, salty Queso Oaxaca that was stuffed inside it. The margarita was the most typical of all the drinks we had, although its use of vanilla liqueur and a variety of juices made for a rounder flavor than most margaritas.
With dessert, a chocolate truffle tamale, we were served a special concoction of Don Julio 1942, a limited-edition variety that is aged at least two and a half years, and vanilla liqueur, garnished with a slice of vanilla bean and a sugar rim. This allowed for the flavors of the tequila to really shine and was the perfect way to end the meal.
Since the Tres Chines Margarita was my favorite of the bunch, I thought I'd share it. If you give it a try, let me know what you think - I love cocktails that incorporate fresh ingredients and unusual flavors (usually herbs, but in this case, the three chilis).
Tres Chiles Margarita
1 1/2 ounces Tequila Don Julio Blanco
2 cucumber slices
2 jalapeno slices
1 Anaheim pepper slice
1 long hot slice
2 lime slices
1 lemon slice
1 ounce lemonade
1/2 ounce agave nectar
Lemon twist for garnish
In a Boston shaker, muddle slices of cucumber, jalapeno, Anaheim, long hot, lime, and lemon. Add Tequila Don Julio, agave nectar, lemonade, and ice; cover and shake well. Strain ingredients into highball glass over ice, and garnish with lemon twist.